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ANC: ‘State must fund us’, and other eyebrow-raising resolutions

ANC: ‘State must fund us’, and other eyebrow-raising resolutions
A general view of ANC delegates at the party's 55th national conference at Nasrec in Johannesburg, South Africa on 16 December 2022. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

The ANC’s financial woes are no secret — and its 55th national conference thinks the solution might lie in increased government handouts. One of the more controversial resolutions taken by the conference is that the state ‘must fully fund the activities of all political parties’.

Briefing the media following discussions at the ANC conference late on Thursday, MP Joe Maswanganyi said the party would be looking to amend the Political Party Funding Act — which the ANC blames in part for its parlous financial state.

The funding legislation, which caps the amount that can be donated to political parties in a single financial year and requires the public disclosure of any donations above R100,000, has caused “unintended consequences”, Maswanganyi said.

Other South African political parties were also having “serious issues” with funding as a result of the law, he added.

“The ANC used to get a lot of money from outside the country,” the MP said.

Read more in Daily Maverick: “The ANC’s long history of taking cash from dodgy donors

The Political Party Funding Act has, however, placed major restrictions on the forms of support that local parties may accept from foreign entities.

The ANC is calling for another look at the legislation — with Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi tasked by the party with investigating the possibility of revising the law.

But even if it is not amended, the ANC is asking the South African government to increase funding to political parties.

In the words of the relevant resolution: “The state must fully fund the activities of all political parties as part of funding democracy, and protecting the independence, transparency, accountability and integrity of political parties.”

Current funding not enough, says ANC

The phrasing of the resolution — in particular, that the state must “fully fund” political parties — is unlikely to be received well.

Political parties in South Africa — which receive enough votes in elections to secure at least one seat in Parliament — already benefit from state funding. The parties are allocated money in proportion to their electoral returns from both the Electoral Commission and Parliament.

Maswanganyi acknowledged as much in his briefing, but said these sources were insufficient.

Read more in Daily Maverick: “Political Party Funding Act has more work to do

The MP said the ANC needed money not just for its staff and internal processes, but also for the “programmes we run in communities”.

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The resolution document on finance specifies that the ANC “has not made progress to increase its revenue base to support its programmes, and still largely depends on private donations”.

Shortly after, it bemoans the fact that “big business and the ultra-rich have preferred to fund other parties rather than the ANC, and that this situation will not change as long as the ANC has pro-poor policies”.

Maswanganyi said the party will also be looking at other potential revenue streams, which might include raising membership fees, leveraging the ANC’s property holdings, and exploring new “investment opportunities”.

Call for municipal boundaries to be redrawn

The state funding call is not the only resolution from the conference that will raise eyebrows.

Another is the party’s call for a fresh look at the demarcation of municipal boundaries — to potentially reduce the number of municipalities.

Briefing the media about this, deputy cooperative governance minister Thembi Nkadimeng stressed that redistricting proposals are considered every five years in any event, and that the motivation behind it is the improvement of service delivery.

Nkadimeng said that some rural municipalities were unable to attract the necessary municipal skills to provide services to residents, and that these municipalities generate virtually no revenue — being almost entirely grant-dependent.

In such cases, where municipalities have very few wards, it might make sense to redraw municipal boundaries to see those areas join existing municipalities which are better resourced.

Redistricting is often a highly contentious matter, however, as the party in power can exploit the process to create maps which better serve its electoral prospects. In the US, this is known as gerrymandering and is a perpetually vexed issue.

Party also wants Electoral Act amended

The ANC’s sub-commission on legislature and governance identified hung councils, and coalitions, as the source of “serious instability” which is “impacting on service delivery”.

Read more in Daily Maverick: “Electoral reform is absolutely critical but should not be rushed

As an example of the problem, Nkadimeng cited eThekwini: “With independents included, they’ve got around 24 parties and individuals which make [up] but one council.”

Nkadimeng said the ANC was thus calling for the introduction of a higher threshold for proportional representation in local government. In other words, parties or individuals would have to win a larger number of votes to ensure a seat on their local council.

“It makes council more functional. It makes council to be able to sit, plan, deliver,” Nkadimeng said.

The deputy minister said that in terms of the current coalition arrangements in local government, councils could often not even pass budgets.

This proposal is also likely to invite some sceptical comment, given that the electoral landscape of South Africa is clearly splintering in ways that do not benefit the ANC or other large parties. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Thinker and Doer says:

    These proposals are clearly desperate measures to try and assist the ANC to retain power in the next elections- they can’t raise and properly manage funds by themselves, they know that they are going to lose electoral votes, and they want to try to stop the inevitable evolution to coalition government both locally and nationally. There should not be any funding for political parties, parties need to fund their own campaigns and functioning. Taxpayers cannot continue to fund the current political circus, it is unaffordable and just enables the current political shenanigans and nonsense that we see. Funding for the proper running of sound elections by the IEC is quite appropriate, but not funding of political parties.

  • Paddy Ross says:

    “programmes we run in communities” – “pro-poor policies”? Does Maswanganyi live in cloud cuckoo land? The mass of South Africans have been living in ever increasing numbers in poverty for the last quarter of a century because the ANC has been more interested in their own personal welfare rather than the millions who believed the ANC would lead them out of poverty. Just start to pack your bags, Magwanganyi, and let those who genuinely care about the welfare of South Africa take over. Hypocrisy is among the worst of crimes.

    • Lesley Young says:

      I agree totally. Gift of The Givers show up how inept local municipalities are at dealing with lack of basic services, what DID happen to the Rbillions donated for the victims of KZN and Eastern Cape floods??? And now the anc is demanding more money to party and carry on their disasterous service delivery. Oh, please!

  • Eon van Wyk says:

    The ANC is scared of losing power and now want to change the laws to match them. The Zuma Foundation or the Gupta’s can bail out the ANC this time instead of the taxpayers.

  • Tracy Smith says:

    The ANC needs money for the programmes they run in communities? You can’t make this stuff up.

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    Steal; steal; then steal some more.

  • Johan Buys says:

    Hang on. The state and SOE have been funding the ANC for a decade!

  • Mark K says:

    If the wording is simply that “the state must fully fund the activities of all political parties”, I’m going to register a party with the IEC immediately. It doesn’t say that a party needs to win any votes and it covers pretty much every expense. My home is thus the party office. Transport is for a party official doing party business. Goodbye worries about petrol. Groceries are “community programmes”. A holiday in the Maldives is an international party-to-party conference.


  • Ian Gwilt says:

    Programmes they run in communities , AKA bribing voters, jobs for Pals

  • Joe Soap says:

    We should be working out how to get rid of politicians. We should not be funding them.

  • Auke Van Der Meulen Van Der Meulen says:

    Amazing that the very party who could not make plans to run themselves is still in charge!

  • Cunningham Ngcukana says:

    The Public Protector on the issue of PPE and the ANC Chief Whip was clearly wrong and completely out of order. Political parties are central to the political system of the country and its national security. The mere fact that the ANC as a party in parliament is a recipient of state funding for some of its activities and that the funds used for PPE are taxpayer funds means that the political party abuse of funds falls within the ambit of the Public Protector. Now after abusing funds for PPE and awarded tenders to children of the ANC Chief Whip th captured Public Protector has the temerity to tell us those who abused public funds and annually receive taxpayers money fall outside her ambit. It was very rich of her. It is either the party must return the abused funds or sanctioned by the IEC. Worse, instead of asking for money from their members they are asking for more money from the taxpayers who are not part of choosing their leadership. This must not be accepted because they do not even publish their financial statements and the public has no access to them.

  • Kanu Sukha says:

    By “pro-poor” I am sure he means ‘state capture’ and enrichment of cadres … so that a ‘better life for all’ can be negated ! The irony and idiocy coupled with blind stupidity never fails to amaze … but then who said politicians are an ethical bunch !

  • Bradley Bergh Bergh says:

    “The ANC used to get a lot of money from outside the country,” the MP said. Has it not occurred to them that there might be other reasons why the overseas funding is drying up?

  • Patterson Alan John says:

    I have to give First Prize to the ANC for creative thinking.
    They have come to the realisation that they have been severely affected by the scandalous corruption of using cadres and Gupta, et al, to source funds for their Party, most of which, have now dried up.
    By legislating the funds from the State, all their looting is now quite legitimate, and State Capture is a thing of the past. Problem solved. Everybody is happy. Business can continue as usual.

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